Thursday, May 29, 2008

After the rain

I went away over the bank holiday period so I've missed out on a week's blogging - one of the inevitable outcomes of having to abandon my broadband connection from time to time.

After several days of unrelenting rain things have cheered up considerably. My patio garden has welcomed the downpours and burst into an even greater show of colour, with some of the summer blooms showing their faces for the first time. So far this year I've never made it out to the park before around 2pm, so I had a wander over there in the morning, whilst the sun was still shining, to see if the rain had had as much impact on the park as it has on my small garden. It was a delight.

The yellow water irises are in full flower, and they are everywhere. The rainwater has filled pools and channels whose surfaces had dried completely, and the reflections of the yellow irises and the rich greens of all the surrounding plants and trees was remarkable. The main channel that runs from the Greenland Dock entrance to the park all the way down to the boat bridge is now almost completely blocked with stinging nettles and brambles. I don't know if there's a plan to restore the channel for running water again, but I would imagine that the channel would have to be cleared before this could happen. Like all the other plants, they are seriously enjoying the weather!

On one of the trails through Stave Hill I came across a large bush covered in masses of marble-sized orange pom-poms, which wasn't in flower when I was there just over a week ago. The orange pom-pom bush was enchanting, towering far over my head and perfectly highlighted against the bright blue sky. The bees loved it - bumble bees and honey bees covered it, and it was an absolute mass of activity. Behind me a tiny blue butterfly sat and flexed its wings in the sunshine.

Wandering through Stave Hill I was glad to see that the pink and white roses had sprung into action, with bushes covered in delicate colour almost everywhere I looked. They seem so fragile but they have survived the winds and rains to provide a fine array.

Just wandering through Stave Hill shows what a difference a week can make - as well as the larger and more obvious plants, the small wild flowers which trail through the area have begun to show their colours - purples and pins and blues. All lovely.

It was carnage on Globe Pond, with one male mallard determined to rid his world of all opposition as a lady fed the assembled company with bread. The noise, a combination of loud quacking and water being turned over, was quite remarkable. The coot and moorhen chicks are growing fast, and it was funny to see the adolescents - all long ungainly legs and short brown fluffy feathers, still following their mothers around. A duck chick, soft and brown, pottered happily at the water's edge until its mother took to the water at speed when the bread arrived, leaving her chick to follow at a panic-stricken rate, ploughing a tiny channel through the water.

As I sat watching the pond life, a group on bicycles drifted past, the last of them pulling a trailer which held a girl who was strumming a guitar. The things I've been missing in the last year!

All through the RDW it appeared to be snowing - several trees of the same type were shedding delicate pieces of fluff into the air, and people were getting covered with it. Very pretty.

I was working my way back from Globe Pond towards the boat bridge when an amazingly strong sweet scent stopped me in my tracks. If it hadn't been for the perfume I would never have noticed its producer - a climbing white rose whose flowers are a small multitude of tiny white petals. I went and pushed my nose in it and the scent was astonishing.

On my way back home I ran into Charley and his mum who were going to inspect a Spotted Woodpecker nest. I caught up with them after spending some time photographing a heron who was relaxing in a tree by the boat bridge, and although I didn't see the birds (there was already quite a crowd of us) the noise they made suggested that they would rather that we were somewhere else - so we left them to it. There are quite a few woodpeckers in the Woodland. I photographed a few a couple of years ago. According to Charley's mum there is a Green Woodpecker somewhere in the RDW which would be nice to catch a glimpse of.

There were quite a few people in the park today - some people running, women with pushchairs, cyclists, dog walkers, and I could hear the sounds of someone working in the immediate vicinity of Stave Hill itself as I walked on the trail on the other side of a large wild hedge.

The colours and textures were amazing in the sunshine - rich and vibrant, full of energy. I spend several weeks each year in one of the most arid places on the planet, the Egyptian part of the Sahara desert, and although I love it to bits (for much the same reasons of texture and colour) it is such a joy to be able to step back to the opposite extreme and see what the rain can create. As I said to Charley's mum - we are amazingly lucky to live in London with all this lovely wildlife and greenery on our immediate doorsteps.

1 comment:

Mike said...

I managed to get a photo of one of the juvenile great spotted woodpeckers in the nest:

Russia Dock Woodland certainly gets occasional visits from green woodpeckers, but I don't think there's a resident one.